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Plug-in electric car sales in Dec: Bolt EV launches; Leaf, Volt rise

First 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV buyers, Fremont, California: Bobby Edmonds, Bill Mattos, Steve Henry

As sales results trickle in from automakers throughout the day, industry analysts will be waiting to see whether enough buyers signed on the line to make 2016 a new record sales year.

Among cars with plugs, however, the trend was clearly up—and December saw the first sales of the long-awaited 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, the 238-mile battery-electric hatchback.

Chevrolet reported that it sold 579 Bolt EVs last month, a decent start if not the four-figure number some had secretly hoped for.

Numerous comments and letters from Green Car Reports readers indicate that the Bolt EV launch in states outside California has been challenging, with frustrated dealers complaining of a lack of communication from the carmaker.

Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid logged a strong 3,691 sales in December, bringing its full-year 2016 total to 24,739.

That's roughly 60 percent higher than the previous year's 15,393, when the transition from first- to second-generation Volts was taking place.

With the arrival of the Bolt EV, sales of its predecessor, the Chevy Spark EV minicar fell further to 17, indicating that the car is now on cleanup status.

As for the ill-fated Cadillac ELR, it sold another 3 units, bringing the full-year total to 534—only half as much as the lackluster 2015 total of 1,024—and largely ending its tenure on sales lots as well.

The Nissan Leaf, meanwhile, finished with a strong December, selling 1,899 units, a 40-percent boost over the previous December total.

Full-year 2016 sales for the Leaf, now entering its seventh model year, were 14,006, down on 2015's 17,469.

While Tesla Motors reported its fourth-quarter and full-year global sales yesterday, as before it refused to break out those sales by region.

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